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SFMTA Announces Passing of Former Chairman, H. Welton Flynn

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced the unfortunate passing of H. Welton Flynn, former chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors.

“Welton was a good friend and distinguished commissioner while I was Mayor. I came to lean on him, rely on his counsel, and valued his contributions greatly.  As time has gone on, I was unable to see him as much as I would have liked, and I regret that.  Everyone should know he was a great San Franciscan,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“He probably served longer than any other person on San Francisco’s commissions,” said former-Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. “He was the choice of so many mayors, because he had integrity and the sensibilities necessary to do the work. He loved the employees of the agency as much as the he loved the people of San Francisco. It was tough when he left the Commission, but even tougher for some of us. Now he has moved on.”

Flynn was appointed to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which then oversaw Muni, in 1970. He was the first African-American to be appointed to a San Francisco city commission and served in this post until 1991. Because of his long-time service and experience overseeing Muni, Flynn was appointed by Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., to the Public Transportation Commission in 1996 and became the first chairman of the SFMTA Board in 2000. During his tenures, he saw the introduction of transit passes, established a program in San Francisco that gave contracting opportunities to women and minorities which became a nationwide model, the start of the accessible services program, the launching of Muni Metro subway service, the implementation of the Cable Car System Rehabilitation Program, the completion of the Third Street Light Rail Project, and the driving force behind hiring the first African-American general manager of a transit system in the United States.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a public servant who did so much to improve transportation in San Francisco,” said Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Tom Nolan. “His inspirational guidance impacted so many people and so many policies that put the people of San Francisco first.”

In 1989, the City and County of San Francisco dedicated the H. Welton Flynn Motor Coach Division in his honor. Flynn has also been recognized by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Organization of Minority Architects, the San Francisco Business and Professional Women, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and elected to the American Public Transportation Association Hall of Fame.

"As the longest serving member of any San Francisco board or commission, Chairman Flynn has made San Francisco a better place to live, work and visit,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “He was the first African-American to be appointed to a San Francisco city commission and led the way for so many people who followed in his footsteps. The results of his leadership have influenced several generations and his achievements will continue to be felt for years to come."    

The SFMTA has lowered all flags on property in his honor.